Van Der Graaf Generator

Do talk back
User avatar
C
Robust
Posts: 65611
Joined: 22 Jul 2003, 19:06

Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby C » 30 Sep 2021, 12:03

Matt Wilson wrote:Image
Peter Hammill - The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage
After Pawn Hearts and the subsequent tour, the band took a break for a few years while Peter began his solo career in earnest. There's a whole cult around Hammill and his records, but I only own or have heard this one. There's many more PH solo LPs than there are VDGG ones so there very well may be some that are better than this. Prog Archives doesn't rate one higher until The Fall of the House of Usher in 1991 though, so I feel reasonably secure that this is one of the better ones.

You're looking at that bizarre LP cover, aren't you? Wiki - "The cover was designed by Bettina Hohls, ex-member of the psychedelic German rock band Ash Ra Tempel. Hohls also contributed to the cover of Hammill's earlier album Chameleon in the Shadow of the Night.

Peter Hammill – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars (1, 2, 5, 6), piano (2, 3, 4, 7), Mellotron (1, 2), bass guitar (1, 2, 6), harmonium (1), oscillator (6)
Hugh Banton – Hammond organ, bass pedals and bass guitar (3, 4, 7), Farfisa organ (5), backing vocals
Guy Evans – percussion, drums (4, 5, 7)
David Jackson – flute, alto, tenor, and soprano saxophones (4, 5, 7)
Randy California – lead guitar (5)

All tracks are written by Peter Hammill.

Image

1. "Modern" 7:28
Instense acoustic guitar strumming until Peter's vocals slide in and we're in Van Der Graaf territory. You can't really tell you're not listening to one of their albums to be frank. He's not trying for commerciality, that's for sure. Images of modern city life and urban decay are the theme of the day here. Wonder where he lives, anyway? Organ by Hugh and weird effects assault the senses. Wonder what a VDGG album would have sounded like in 1974? This is probably it. Wicked guitar sounds after the four-minute mark. Hammill makes somebody like Robert Fripp sound like a top 40 artist. This would clear the room at a party I'll bet.

2. "Wilhelmina" 5:18
Peter's piano and voice begin. "Willie..." He's addressing a small child, or maybe even a baby - giving her advice for the upcoming years. Pete's idea of a children's song, I imagine. As commercial as his songwriting gets, folks. "Wilhelmina" is written for Guy Evans' newborn baby girl, Tamra." - Wikipedia

3. "The Lie (Bernini's Saint Theresa)" 5:41
Same beginning with his piano chords, but organ this time. That sense of drama and urgency so prevalent in Hammill's music is all over these tunes. He's pulling an Ian Anderson here and commenting on the Catholic church it sounds like. "I'd embrace you if I only knew your name." Wiki says this cut alludes to the Ecstasy of St Theresa by Bernini. Okay. Wonder if Charisma actually thought this kind of stuff would get airplay? Intense, I'll give it that.

4. "Forsaken Gardens" 6:16
"Where are all the joys of yesterday?" is the first thing you hear before the piano comes in. I'll bet he wrote these songs on the instrument. You do feel assaulted when listening to this music, I must admit. "Forsaken Gardens" (also played live in 1975) and "Red Shift" are two more songs which feature ex-VdGG members. - Wikipedia

Image Image Image

5. "Red Shift" 8:11
Strange days, indeed. Weirdness abounds, and you get Jackson's sax as well! I'm not even trying to follow what he's saying anymore and just going with the current. A little red wine helps, of course - and I've always got plenty of that. The chutzpah to record stuff like this and expect an audience. But that's exactly what he got, so haters take note. Actually digging the vibe of this one. Spirit's Randy California plays guitar too, it starts about 5:30. Hammill's melodies aren't written to sound pretty. Damn, it's getting loud, hope the neighbors don't mind...

6. "Rubicon" 4:41
More acoustic guitar as Peter tries to sound normal for once. Wonder how long this will last? I tried to read the words but the vino has dulled my senses and I can't concentrate. Probably for the best. He's singing about being the lone wolf, hmmm... The most conventional number on the disc.

7. "A Louse is Not a Home" 12:15
Ooo, a long one! (Yeah, I get that a lot...) Pete must really have something to say with twelve minutes to say it in. He's growling and groaning after only a minute in so he's saved this angsty track for last. Enjoying Jackson's sax as always. Lots of changing tempos tell us it's prog. My daughter just came in, wonder how much of this she can take? LOL... She's trying to talk to me but Peter's voice is cranked up so loud I can't hear her. Good thing this is the last track. Guess I'll cut it short then. That's it for tonight, folks!

Wiki - "The lengthy "A Louse is not a Home" is a song about the nature of identity. It was originally written for Van der Graaf Generator's album following Pawn Hearts, an album that because of the band's split never came to be. It features Van der Graaf Generator's ex-members and was (just like "In the Black Room" from the previous album) played live by the group already in mid 1972 (just before the split) and again with the reformed band in 1975."

Image


An excellent solo album and possibly my favourite Hamill album - certainly one of the top 2

Full of music and angst

It always makes me chuckle to see Randy California's name who contributed some guitar

An interesting juxtaposition




.
Matt Wilson wrote:
Lord Rother wrote:So what do you do to supplement your school teacher salary

I pole dance at the local titty bar.

User avatar
slightbreeze
Can I Get To Widnes?
Posts: 10701
Joined: 03 Sep 2003, 20:07
Location: facing the computer
Contact:

Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby slightbreeze » 30 Sep 2021, 13:27

:D Good man ! Thank you, Mr Olivetti

grimalkin
Posts: 6
Joined: 30 Jun 2010, 23:47

Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby grimalkin » 01 Oct 2021, 10:30

Had tickets to see VdGG at the London Palladium in early 2020. That date's now been postponed and rearranged three times. Now arranged for February 2022 - am not holding my breath!

User avatar
ConnyOlivetti
Probing The Sonic Heritage
Posts: 10399
Joined: 06 Nov 2003, 07:14
Location: Below The North Pole
Contact:

Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby ConnyOlivetti » 01 Oct 2021, 11:35

In case you missed it, here is the second collaboration between
Hammill and Swedish band Isuldurs Bane.
https://isildursbane.bandcamp.com/album ... quilibrium
Charlie O. wrote:I think Coan and Googa are right.


Un enfant dans electronica!
Je suis!

User avatar
Jumper K
Posts: 2765
Joined: 22 Oct 2014, 16:25

Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby Jumper K » 01 Oct 2021, 12:48

Off to see them in Bath next March. I hoping its a noise-ridden discordant extravaganza.

User avatar
C
Robust
Posts: 65611
Joined: 22 Jul 2003, 19:06

Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby C » 01 Oct 2021, 19:15

Jumper K wrote:Off to see them in Bath next March. I hoping its a noise-ridden discordant extravaganza.


I am sure it will be Frank




.
Matt Wilson wrote:
Lord Rother wrote:So what do you do to supplement your school teacher salary

I pole dance at the local titty bar.

User avatar
C
Robust
Posts: 65611
Joined: 22 Jul 2003, 19:06

Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby C » 01 Oct 2021, 19:17

grimalkin wrote:Had tickets to see VdGG at the London Palladium in early 2020. That date's now been postponed and rearranged three times. Now arranged for February 2022 - am not holding my breath!


Fingers crossed.

[6 posts in 11 years - that's going some!]





.
Matt Wilson wrote:
Lord Rother wrote:So what do you do to supplement your school teacher salary

I pole dance at the local titty bar.

User avatar
Neil Jung
Watcher Of The Skies
Posts: 10740
Joined: 18 Jul 2003, 18:36
Location: In the deepest ocean, bottom of the sea

Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby Neil Jung » 01 Oct 2021, 20:20

C wrote:
grimalkin wrote:Had tickets to see VdGG at the London Palladium in early 2020. That date's now been postponed and rearranged three times. Now arranged for February 2022 - am not holding my breath!


Fingers crossed.

[6 posts in 11 years - that's going some!]

.


He’s pacing himself and going for quality not quantity.
[indistinct chatter]

User avatar
Lord Rother
Posts: 8181
Joined: 11 Feb 2009, 11:54
Location: breaking the legs of the bastard that got me framed

Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby Lord Rother » 01 Oct 2021, 22:17

Neil Jung wrote:
C wrote:
grimalkin wrote:Had tickets to see VdGG at the London Palladium in early 2020. That date's now been postponed and rearranged three times. Now arranged for February 2022 - am not holding my breath!


Fingers crossed.

[6 posts in 11 years - that's going some!]

.


He’s pacing himself and going for quality not quantity.


What’s he doing posting on a VDGG / PH thread then?

User avatar
Matt Wilson
Psychedelic Cowpunk
Posts: 31171
Joined: 16 Jul 2003, 20:18
Location: Edge of a continent

Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby Matt Wilson » 05 Oct 2021, 18:07

Image
Godbluff 1975
This album isn't nearly as intense as The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage. It's almost as if Peter had exorcised that part of his music and returned to a more, I dunno, I don't want to say tranquil or sedate vibe - because this is a Van Der Graaf album - but a slightly more listener friendly take on things I suppose. Then again my theory could be shot to hell if future Hammill solo albums are as combustible as Silent Corner. Then he didn't get it out of his system at all in other words.

The band never stopped socializing and members played with Peter onstage at some of his concerts, so it was no trouble to properly reunite a few years later for this LP. Hugh was building a new organ, but couldn't finish in time for shows. Other than that, there were few problems involved with collaborating and issuing Godbluff. A conscious decision was made not to attempt to replicate Pawn Hearts, and to produce music which would be easy to perform on stage. Some material written during these sessions would end up on the Still Life record as well. The album is one of VDGG's masterpieces, and should be heard, if not owned, by anyone with an interest in '70s progressive music.

Peter Hammill – vocals, piano, clavinet, electric guitar
David Jackson – saxophones and flute
Hugh Banton – Hammond organ (including bass pedals), bass guitar
Guy Evans – drums and percussion

Image

All tracks written by Peter Hammill, except where indicated.

1. "The Undercover Man" 7:32
Slow beginning with flute and Hammill's almost spoken vocals tell us this is a different band than a few years previous. Only four cuts and each one longer than the last. This might be the album I'd give a newbie so as not to scare them away. LOL. Peter still sings in his inimitable style though so if you infer from my writing that this could be played on your typical rock radio station, then you're not understanding the implication. It's still very much a Van Der Graaf endeavor.

"As the first self-produced album by the band, it featured a tighter, more pared-down sound than the band's earlier recordings with producer John Anthony. Hammill said "we did not want to make 'Son of Pawn Hearts' with a big long side two and lots of studio experiments". Van der Graaf Generator would never work with an outside producer from this point forward. Hammill made extensive use of the Hohner Clavinet D6 keyboard, which he had first started using on his previous solo album, Nadir's Big Chance (1975). - Wiki

2. "Scorched Earth" (Peter Hammill, David Jackson) 9:44
Another slow beginning but the tempo picks up in this collaboration with Jackson. The war motif dominates the lyrics and there's a good bit of the intensity of earlier Van Der Graaf in this cut. I like it better than the first number. Great pounding riffs after the four-minute point. A damn good side one! Wikipedia: "Godbluff's album cover was minimal, consisting of a band logo and "stamped" red album title on an otherwise black sleeve. The band logo that first appeared here was designed by John Pasche; it would also be used on the next two albums, Still Life (April 1976) and World Record (October 1976). Godbluff's sleeve design was later parodied on the cover of Fall Heads Roll by The Fall."

Image

3. "Arrow" 9:48
Percussion and bass interplay at the beginning with David's always interesting sax interjections. Sounds jazzy until the pace slows down and the cut begins in earnest. The song was developed as a clavinet/drums piece, which gave Hugh more space to play bass. Again, the sense of urgency in the singing reminds me of earlier tunes. A bit of the "Lighthouse" feel perhaps? The last couple of minutes of instrumental interplay are sublime.

"In Melody Maker, the reviewer said that "in a very real sense, [Godbluff] is the sound of the mid-seventies: uncomfortable, coherent, unremitting, courageous". Geoff Barton of Sounds deemed Godbluff "simply, an essential buy". A negative review appeared in the Lancashire Evening Post in November 1975, in which Bob Papworth wrote that "Godbluff is a lengthy exhibition of the type of studiously avant-garde rock which so many other groups play infinitely better." Papworth added that "Guy Evans couldn't drum his way out of a paper bag and David Jackson's saxes and flutes are a little too simplistic to be credible." - Wikipedia

LOL, my, my...

4. "The Sleepwalkers" 10:40
Great proggy opening for one of the highlights of an album comprised of nothing but. I'm not even sure what my fave cut on the record is really, could be any of them depending on which one I've heard last.

Wiki: "In his 2011 AllMusic review, Steve McDonald wrote: "the album opened with daring quietness, with David Jackson's flute echoing across the stereo space, joined by Hammill's voice as he whispered the opening lines. There was sturm und drang to come, but the music had been opened up and the lyrics had developed more focus, often abandoning metaphor in favor of statement. Godbluff was a bravura comeback – only four cuts, but all were classics."

In a May 2002 review in Mojo magazine, Julian Cope said of the album: "It was the best re-formation ever. Godbluff was every inch a classic. It conjured up vast tracts of heathland, the burning huts of herdsmen, hordes of chariot maniacs trashing farmsteads, heads on javelins stuck in. And Hammill standing amidst all this, Zoroaster-like and mystified, searching desperately and eloquently for some semblance of moral where there was none."

Indeed.

Image

User avatar
C
Robust
Posts: 65611
Joined: 22 Jul 2003, 19:06

Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby C » 05 Oct 2021, 18:52

Godbluff: excellent

Full of music





.
Matt Wilson wrote:
Lord Rother wrote:So what do you do to supplement your school teacher salary

I pole dance at the local titty bar.

User avatar
slightbreeze
Can I Get To Widnes?
Posts: 10701
Joined: 03 Sep 2003, 20:07
Location: facing the computer
Contact:

Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby slightbreeze » 05 Oct 2021, 19:03

My second favourite. Love it

User avatar
mudshark
Posts: 830
Joined: 25 Jul 2003, 03:51

Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby mudshark » 06 Oct 2021, 01:33

I'm a big VDGG aficionado and although 2 or 3 of my favourite songs are on other albums, this one as a whole is in my opinion the highlight of their output,
There's a big difference between kneeling down and bending over

User avatar
Matt Wilson
Psychedelic Cowpunk
Posts: 31171
Joined: 16 Jul 2003, 20:18
Location: Edge of a continent

Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby Matt Wilson » 12 Oct 2021, 17:37

Image
Still Life 1976
This is another virtual classic, and a further examination of a more mainstream sound begun on Godbluff. The first of two albums for the band this year (same as Genesis), Peter still singing in his inimitable style, but with a more controlled emotion. The songs eschew choruses as before, but with less chaotic moments. No Pawn Hearts type shambolic cacophonies of sound here, yet it's still Van der Graaf and should please the faithful to no end. You were never gonna hear this stuff on the radio or played at a party anyway, right? Music for the initiated, in other words.

Peter Hammill – vocals, guitar, piano
David Jackson – tenor and soprano saxophones, flute
Hugh Banton – Hammond organ, bass, Mellotron, piano
Guy Evans – drums, percussion

All songs written by Peter Hammill, except as noted.

1. "Pilgrims" ( Peter Hammill, David Jackson) 7:12
A slow beginning for this tune co-writen by Jackson. Peter's singing almost sounds normal until you examine the words. The sense of being adrift, of situations almost seeming hopeless - with all the pilgrims clutching to some sense of hope or normalcy pervades the writing. We're in VDGG territory for sure. Wiki: The album front cover, photographed by Paul Brierley, shows a Lichtenberg figure. The image was described by journalist Geoff Barton in Sounds: "It's actually a frozen-in-action shot of an electrical discharge from a real Van de Graaff generator machine, set in acrylic."

2. "Still Life" 7:25
Similar themes of boredom and ennui remain except now the characters are not pilgrims, but immortals, doomed to grow weary of life as they remain alive and aware. Hammill begins the song singing even more slowly than on the first cut, but when the music proper kicks in after the third minute it's something else entirely. Proper prog, folks.

Geoff Barton of Sounds wrote: "Where "Still Life" scores over past LPs is in its precise and accurate reproduction of leader Hammill's vocals. He never really sings, rather he murmurs, shouts, screams or speaks, and this wide range of tonality has presented in the past often insurmountable problems for engineers, technicians and suchlike. Here, however, every subtle nuance of the 'chords has been captured successfully, providing greater variation, an abundance of light and shade.. "Still Life" is an essential album. If you think you have problems, listen to Hammill's and you'll probably never be able to worry about anything insignificant ever again." - Wikipedia

3. "La Rossa" 9:53
An honest-to-God lustful song from a man I wouldn't have thought capable of such things. I'd tell you that it's a highlight, but aren't they all at this stage of the band's career? How many different ways have men written songs to women to get laid? Wonder if this worked for Hammill?

Wiki - "Jonathan Barnett of New Musical Express, describing the songs on the album, wrote: "They start off with the kind of morbid over-sensibility, y'know.. smart ass existentialist one-liners like that, accompanied by furtive, lurching manic melodies that emphasize the personality disorientation of the whole thing."

Gee, ya think? LOL

Image

4. "My Room (Waiting for Wonderland)" 8:03
Beautiful opening (did I just write that?) to one of the more popular numbers on the record. He's now got a woman, and is waiting for her in his room with all the existential self-doubt expressed earlier which is both a theme for this LP and every previous Van der Graaf platter. Play this for the newbie wondering if he/she can handle VDGG.

"Steven McDonald, for AllMusic, notes that Hammill songs take ".. a dead run at a grandiose concept or two – the consequences of immortality on the title track, and the grand fate of humanity on the epic "Childlike Faith in Childhood's End." McDonald concludes: "The true highlight, however, is the beautiful, pensive "My Room (Waiting for Wonderland)", with its echoes of imagination and loss. Hammill did not achieve such a level of painful beauty again until "This Side of the Looking Glass" on Over." - Wikipedia

Yeah, I think I'm gonna have to review Over in this thread, even though I said I'd only do one Peter solo album.

5. "Childlike Faith in Childhood's End" 12:24
Another pleasant opening for the album's longest, most proggy cut. I guess if I had to choose a least fave track, this would be it. It's still pretty good though. More sturm and drang in Hammill's vocals than is the norm on this record. Maybe that's why I've never quite cottoned to it, I dunno... Wiki - "Interviewed by Mojo in 2002, Hugh Banton said: "I remember doing Still Life, which is possibly my favourite Van der Graaf album of all, and Charisma came along and said 'Oh, this is just a stop-gap album'. The stop-gap album!? We don't make stop-gap albums!"

User avatar
Matt Wilson
Psychedelic Cowpunk
Posts: 31171
Joined: 16 Jul 2003, 20:18
Location: Edge of a continent

Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby Matt Wilson » 15 Oct 2021, 16:50

Image
World Record 1976
The second record of the year, and maybe not as good as the previous one. But still, for an album which seems to be all but unknown except to fans, I like it quite a bit. There's a move towards an even more listener-friendly approach than the direction used on Godbluff and Still Life, but it doesn't diminish the pleasure of listening. Take away some of the sharp edges of VDGG and what remains is still prime prog. Like Yes' Drama, I'm going to say this is their most underrated LP.

Peter Hammill – vocals, guitar, piano
David Jackson – saxophone, flute
Hugh Banton – Hammond organ, bass pedals, Mellotron
Guy Evans – drums, percussion, cymbal

All songs written by Peter Hammill, except where noted.

1. "When She Comes" 8:02
Another pleasant opening motif in the style we've become accustomed to for Hammill's second foray into songs about women delivered in a sexual manner. I'd say this album might be a good one for newbies as the existential angst, while still present, is of a tamer nature than usual. He's still going from gentle singing to yelling - it is Peter Hammill after all - but it seems to be administered with a spoonful of sugar now.

2. "A Place to Survive" 10:05
A conventional funky drum pattern, in a VDGG song, folks. Who would have thunk? The lyrics are trying to prop up people in despair, people exactly like Peter himself, in most songs. So perhaps he's addressing this to himself, I dunno. His voice is the one thing keeping something like this from being played on the radio. I just can't imagine ever hearing one of their tunes on the airwaves. There's honest-to-God riffs in these songs, too.

3. "Masks" 7:01
The beginnings of these cuts always sound so nice. LOL. We're in more traditional territory now, with the idea of personas, or masks being worn, and what lies beneath once you remove them. A fine side one, if perhaps a tad less memorable than what came before.

Image

4. "Meurglys III, The Songwriter's Guild" 20:50
The centerpiece of the album, or the nadir - depending on your point of view. Amazingly, this was released in a severely edited form as a 45. Pete's only friend is his Meurglys guitar you see, and an attempt is made to construct another "Lighthouse"-type number wherein the narrator (which could be nobody else but PH) seems to be alone in his room suffering the complexities of a lonely existence. But like Jimi, at least he has his axe! If only Hammill could play like Hendrix though... The track goes on a bit long and becomes a reggae jam (yes, you read that correctly). I've mentioned the fondness for cod reggae by the English before, so I won't remunerate again, but... damn.

5. "Wondering" (Hugh Banton, Peter Hammill) 6:33
This is my least favorite. I don't care for the melody or the overly dramatic way he sings it. "But doesn't PH always sing in an overly dramatic fashion?" I hear you ask. Yes, but... You choose your battles. This one bugs.

Wiki - "It was the last album recorded by the classic line-up of the band until their 2005 reunion: Hugh Banton and David Jackson departed in December 1976 and January 1977 respectively. Banton's departure owed to financial troubles and his then-recent marriage, but he stayed to finish touring commitments. Jackson continued with Peter Hammill and Guy Evans to rehearse with the new line-up in January 1977, which featured returning bassist Nic Potter and newcomer violinist Graham Smith (of Scottish folk-rock act String Driven Thing), but left shortly after the band started rehearsing, just before the next tour."

User avatar
C
Robust
Posts: 65611
Joined: 22 Jul 2003, 19:06

Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby C » 15 Oct 2021, 18:16

Still Life - top 3 for me.

Often top 1



.
Matt Wilson wrote:
Lord Rother wrote:So what do you do to supplement your school teacher salary

I pole dance at the local titty bar.

User avatar
mudshark
Posts: 830
Joined: 25 Jul 2003, 03:51

Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby mudshark » 15 Oct 2021, 22:09

I think "When She Comes" is one of their best.

Next is The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome, the first one without the indomitable David Jackson. For me he's 1/2 of the VDGG sound. I was so disappointed that he wasn't on this. I've actually never listened to it.
There's a big difference between kneeling down and bending over

User avatar
Matt Wilson
Psychedelic Cowpunk
Posts: 31171
Joined: 16 Jul 2003, 20:18
Location: Edge of a continent

Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby Matt Wilson » Today, 16:52

Image
Peter Hammill - Over 1977
This is Peter's Plastic Ono Band and Blood on the Tracks rolled into one album. Less prog than a VDGG record, and more singer songwriter in nature, it's nevertheless every bit as intense as what we had come to expect from him. Not as bracing as The Silent Corner, its more stripped-down approach keeps it in line with recent Van der Graaf records. I decided to purchase this and review it because I've seen it referenced elsewhere, including in pictures of Fish (of Marillion) with this LP in the '80s. This will be it though in terms of writing about solo recordings because Hammill's career is deep, and I've only got so much time.

Peter Hammill – vocals, acoustic and electric guitars (1, 4, 6-8), piano (1-3, 8), synthesizer (3, 7, 8), Hammond organ (1)
Nic Potter – bass (1, 3, 8)
Guy Evans – drums (1, 3, 8)
Graham Smith – violin (2, 6)
Michael Brand – orchestra conductor (5)

All tracks are written by Peter Hammill.

1. "Crying Wolf" 5:13
An honest rocker starts her off and it sounds good. A Lou Reed vibe maybe? He's admonishing himself for the pity party. This could have got radio play had it been sung by anyone save Peter. LOL. He even attempts a guitar solo. Far from getting over all this self reflection though, the album is only just beginning.

"The album was recorded during a period of line-up change for Hammill's band Van der Graaf Generator. It features VdGG drummer Guy Evans, VdGG's future recruit Graham Smith (formerly of String Driven Thing) on violin, and the return of VdGG's bass player from 1969 to 1970, Nic Potter." - Wiki

2. "Autumn" 4:18
The narrative shifts now to a man bemoaning his children leaving the nest and the emptiness this action brings. Acoustic in nature with strings, this track is more illustrative of how the rest of the LP sounds. Pete whining while pathos-laden music envelops the listener. This is his idea of a confessional platter sung with sincerity I guess. It's effective, of course - you have to give it that, but one has to be in the mood as well.

3. "Time Heals" 8:44
He's practically whispering to start things off, but things slowly pick up. The whole sordid affair is outlined. There's Peter, a girl named Alice (not named in this song) and apparently a third party. Another man, but he's a nebulous figure, not clearly outlined in the narrative (flashback). The time signature changes for a bit - just to show us it can I assume - but then things revert back to their former gloom. The longest number on the album. Those chords/riffs will stick with you too.

Wikipedia: "The album details the break-up of a long-term relationship with a woman known as Alice. The album was originally to be called Over My Shoulder with a different cover shot in which Hammill was caught looking back over his shoulder with a very mixed expression."

4. "Alice (Letting Go)" 5:40
Well, she's named here, so there's no doubt who he's lamenting, is there? If the last cut was the telling of the tale, this one is reflective of his sadness over the loss. She went off with one of his friends after seven years with Hammill according to the lyrics. It's just Pete and his acoustic guitar. And pain, folks, lots of that too. Why do all of the songs like this come from men? Do women cope better with this stuff, or do they simply move on to the next man? Probably a silly question, but I can't help wondering.

Image


1. "This Side of the Looking Glass" 7:00
Now he's brought in the orchestra to reinforce his existential dilemma. There's almost an operatic quality to his self pity. Of course, we've all felt this way about someone who has left our lives, but I question the need for so many songs of this nature. It's not as if you want to listen to this kind of thing when you're actually going through it, and once you're moved on past the pain you certainly don't want to be reminded of it. Therein lies the conundrum.

2. "Betrayed" 4:45
The feeling sorry for himself reaches its nadir here. He's through with it all you see: friends, love, even words (yet he can still write these songs, I notice). All the while the strings tell us he's sad and bitter. Pete - you're a rock star. Go out and bang a few groupies and forget about things for awhile. Jeez...

3. "(On Tuesdays She Used to Do) Yoga" 3:57
She would go away to do yoga while he sat around the house and watched TV. He was an artist, you see - at least that's what he told her. We see an acknowledgment that part of the reason it didn't work out was his doing - which is always a good sign that you're dealing with it in a more healthy manner. I'm speaking from experience here, folks, so note these pearls of wisdom when I dispense them. The album desperately needs an uptempo tune at this juncture.

4. "Lost and Found" 7:14
Now he's singing about his new love, La Rossa (whom we heard from on a previous LP), so I guess everything is copacetic again. It starts off like another dirge, but picks up as the song moves along, only to return to a slooooow tempo. Ah, Peter...

Image

User avatar
C
Robust
Posts: 65611
Joined: 22 Jul 2003, 19:06

Re: Van Der Graaf Generator

Postby C » Today, 17:01

Nice review.

One of my favourite Hammill albums.

Stripped back compared to some of the others as you suggest but full of music nonetheless






.
Matt Wilson wrote:
Lord Rother wrote:So what do you do to supplement your school teacher salary

I pole dance at the local titty bar.